The BugShop: Project '57, Accessories

The Special Accessories on my '57 Beetle

This page last modified- 11/3/01

It should be obvious that I am dedicated to vintage correctness, but I find some accessories hard to resist. Spending eight years restoring a car gives you time to mull over what "specials" you want it to have, and lots of time to find them. I recall seeing cars at shows with one of a kind accessories and wondered where in the heck they find stuff like that. Over the years I figured it out: you just never stop looking. Keeping that "VW Radar" on...

 I wanted some unique things for my car, didn't want it plain as white bread, but not over-accessorized either. This page will present the accessories that I have installed in or on my car, and some detail about their origin and implementation.

Note: the pictures below are shown in reduced size, but your browsers cache already has the full sized version if they are all displayed below. Clicking on the images will open a full sized one in a new browser window. Close that window to return here and continue....

Resettable Trip Odometer Speedo
This speedometer was in a '54 Beetle that I bought in '97 and sold just 2 weeks later. But I decided quickly that I would keep this speedo and put it in my '57 (I paid $200 for the '54, complete with gas heater, correct taillights, W deck lid and this speedometer!). It is dated 8/59. I have only heard of one other speedo like this in my lifetime. I had to take it apart and replace a brass gear with one from a "donor" speedo to make it work. You can see the details of that effort on Page 19 of the restoration chronology.

 When I rebuilt it, I reset the main odometer back to "00000".

Reproduction Hazet Roundbox Tool Kit
This is a reproduction Hazet roundbox tool kit. The company was offering them at an introductory price of $90 (they are usually about $120 now). The Box repro is excellent, the tools are, well, "ornamental", but they look OK. I didn't have the $600-$1000 that the originals are going for so I asked my wife to buy me this one for my Birthday. 

It resides in my $105 "spare tire" Firestone wide whitewall, that will never touch the road (don't plan on it anyway) 

Reproduction Blumenvasen
No Oval would be complete without one. Another gift from my wife (on my suggestion of course, I make holiday shopping soooo easy for her) from Rocky Mountain Motorworks. A very nice reproduction, around $35 if I recall correctly. Silk flowers from my local Wal-Mart. 

2 in 1 Fuel/Temperature Gauge
This is my Allstate 2 in 1 gauge that I bought on eBay. I paid around $130 for it, with the sender. What I like most about it is that it has an underdash bracket (I would not cut a hole in my dash!!!) and the sender doesn't require you to cut big hole in your tank.

 It says "Made in Western Germany" on the back. 

This is the fuel gauge sender for this gauge. It is an electrical sender. You can't really see it in this picture, but behind the pivot for the float arm is a "can" housing that holds a potentiometer type sender. The curved plate at the top fits inside the filler neck of the gas tank, with the hollow stud that the wire comes out of protruding through the neck.

 Note the set screw on the pivot shaft allowing you to adjust the pivot point along the float arm to optimize the empty/full range. 

Here is the inside of the sender housing. I had to open it to replace the wire. This whole deal is submersed in gasoline most of the time. The housing lip is just crimped over the pivot plate, this is not a waterproof housing. 
This is when I was drilling my tank to install this gauge. I put a piece of duct tape inside the neck to catch any metal shavings that might fall inside. I wanted to show that this gauge could be installed on a freshly painted tank with no other damage. The hole is about 3/8", the bolt shank on the sender is a standard 8mm. 
Here is the sender installed in the tank. Believe it or not, the whole thing slips down into the neck of the tank very easily.
This is the outside of the filler neck (driver's side) after the sender was installed. You can see that the bakelite connection plate fits neatly on the neck under the cap.
I liked this gauge because it came with an underdash bracket that the gauge just slipped into. But I didn't even want to drill holes into the underside of my dash for the bracket (a 43 year old VW with NO holes under the dash, I just couldn't bring myself to do it!). So I epoxied the bracket under there.
Here you can see the position of the gauge, just to the left of the steering column. It is well positioned for me to see it while driving. (Oooh! 01370 miles on the odometer already!)

Pop Out Rear Quarter Windows
Now these would not have been in the car in 1957. As best I can tell, pop outs came along in the very early sixties. But I think they are cool, they are getting a bit hard to find, so when I found a nice pair for sale for $125, I took them. They add much needed ventilation on a hot day.

 I replaced both seals in them, but it was quite a chore. See Page 17 of the restoration chronology for those details.

 You can tell the early pop outs easiest by the latch in the back. It mounts to the back end of the frame (rivets) whereas the later ('65 and up) kind have a hole drilled in the glass and the latch mounts through that. 

The $128.50 Coat Hook
This is another one of my "special" accessories. It had better be special, I paid $128.50 for it in one of my first (frenzied) eBay bidding experiences. I had some money to burn and I really wanted it. Bad.

 Don't know who made them, there are no markings on it of any kind. But it is made to fit the contour of the Beetle upper side member perfectly. A single plated sheet metal screw secures it, the swinging arm is about 7" long.

I tell people an interesting story about this hook when they gasp at how much I paid for it. Many years ago, I bought a big, old heavy brass bladed fan at either an antique shop or yard sale, for $1. I had no idea why I bought it, it was just old and looked cool. It had no cage over the blades. After moving it around and tripping over it for probably 10 years, got the notion to check eBay to see if brass bladed fans were selling. I found about 15 of them, ranging from $30 to over $800. So I snapped some pics and put it up for auction at eBay. It weighed almost 40 lbs and had patent plates on it with dates 1897, 1905 and 1912. A few days into the auction it was at $40, a price that made it worth my efforts to package it up and ship it. in the last minutes, late one night, before the auction closed it was at $65 or so. I was pretty happy. With seconds left in the auction, I clicked the browser's "Reload" button and the screen flashed "The auction has ended; $128.50". I blinked my eyes and hit reload again in disbelief.

 That was less than a year before I bought this coat hook. And while that sale had no bearing on my purchase of this hook, I tell people that the hook really cost me only $1.

 The fan cost $43 to ship, by the way. The buyer paid that amount too... 

Hubcap Puller(s)
Another nice re-pro item, this one from Wolfsburg West. The puller serves also as a "cap", to hide those unsightly (and un-usable!) jacking points. The "claw" on the puller goes into the small holes in the hupcap rim to pull it off.

 These actually work pretty nicely, but are a bit of a pain to get out as the running board molding sits down over them a bit. I used them a couple times but later made my own "tool" out of coat hanger wire and a piece of wood. I keep it in the tool bag in the car.

Nothing all too special here, but let's face it; if your are going to deck you car out with wide whites and new stainless steel moldings, these are kind of mandatory. A Wolfsburg West product, very nicely done. Comes with brackets and all hardware. If you get a set of these, take the time to paint the brackets with a good auto paint or underbody coating before installing. Else they will rust very fast. They bolt up to the body via the bumper bracket bolts. They also come in black on white (those look great on a black Beetle)

Euro Headlights
I got these a the swaps several years ago. They actually had the 60s version fluted lenses in them. I found a pair of the correct 50s kind (has the little Oval etched in the middle, how appropriate) and installed them. They really make the front end of the car look much different. More, uhh, "European". These lights are hard to find in the US (just bought another pair from an enthusiast in Denmark). I retrofitted them with 6 volt Halogen H4 bulbs and they project very white light. That light looks a little odd on a 6 volt Beetle.

 You can see the details of the H4 retrofit on Page 17 of the restoration chronology.

A Correct "Year of Manufacture" Plate
And finally, probably my favorite "accessory". These plates are almost a dream come true for me, but were nothing short of a nightmare to get "legal". See the The Paper Chase page. I sandblasted these and hand painted the letters back on, but that almost cost me the use of them (stupid MA rules). How lucky was I to find these? I actually found them in an a antique store in Vermont for $12. I only needed one to register the car, but I found the pair. Massachusetts requires that they be 5 number plates, I had first found 3 other 6 number '57 MA plates. And the stamped year had to be the year of manufacture of the car. And, in the late 50s, they only made odd number year plates. So if I had a '56, I would have been SOL.

 I think these plates are the "icing on the cake" of my Oval....